Less than a mile. Jaael could smell the city now. Meat, spices, and savory dishes. More subtle now than before the battle. There was a timid quality to the city. Each stove was lit with hesitation, with trembling hand, and watchful eyes. Would the still mourning air be forced to hear more fighting?
He could almost feel his wife. Tears would come, he felt them, even now, threatening to cut lines in his dust-covered face. Too much bloodshed, agony, and suffering for one lifetime. It’d been hell on earth. Blood stained grass. The dirt smelled of iron. Birds and wolves would fight over the bodies, flies and maggots would clean up the rest.
He shook the dark thoughts from his head. Tried to focus on—No. Why? He was so close. He could smell her perfume on the wind. Why was one of the enemy here? The armor clad rider turned his head towards Jaael. What’s he thinking? Jaael wondered. What did those hidden eyes see? A lone man, a desperate soul, the last of his city’s army? Or an enemy, his final adversary, another life to end? Or did he see both at once?
The two men held their places, staring at each other. Time waited. A crow passed overhead, cawing, headed to field of death in search of a feast. The same wind that had blown city smells, the hint of his wife’s perfume, now smelled of dust and death. Was this it? His final moment of life? Jaael drew a slow deep breath. Only a miracle could save him.
The rider nodded, pulled on his mount’s reins, and headed away. Jaael watched the rider vanish into the fog. Tears came then, he fell to his knees, kissed the ground, and gave thanks. Tonight he would see his wife. That, indeed, was a miracle.